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Thread: Are you cross-browser compatible?

  1. #1
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    Sep 2003
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    Default Are you cross-browser compatible?

    The question of cross browser compatibility is a common topic among Web developers. Should you or should you not make your website cross-browser accommodating? The answer is yes and especially if you are an e-business. As Ripley would say, "believe it or not" but at the time of this article slightly more than 20% of Internet users use a browser other than IE. This information comes from W3Schools.com, which has been keeping tabs on browser usage since January 2002.

    How do you shape up?

    Use of alternative browsers has only been going up, they are no longer a niche community made up of "techies" and anti- Microsoft advocates, they are your everyday user, your potential customers.

    If you haven't done so already I would suggest that you look at your website in some of the other common browsers available. These include:

    Mozilla (http://www.mozilla.org/download.html): This is currently the top browser after IE6 and it is one of the most feature rich browsers available today. I would personally suggest looking into Firefox Mozilla's next generation browser as apposed to the entire Mozilla suite due to its end users friendliness and feature rich environment.

    Opera (http://www.opera.com/): The Opera browser has been making its way up the competitive ladder of the browser arena since 2000 when Opera Software ASA released Opera 5. Though it is free to download and use if you want to access some of the browser's features you are required to pay a small registration fee.

    Netscape (http://channels.netscape.com/ns/browsers/): Since Netscape provided the code base for Mozilla in 1998 when they made the source code for their flag ship product Netscape Communicator open-source there is little difference between the two browsers. Still it never hurts to see how things shape up between the two, and since they are ultimately two different browsers checking with them both is not a bad idea.

    Additionally there are programs available that can test your site for you in different browsers and screen resolutions and return their findings. One such program is Browser Photo (http://www.netmechanic.com/browser-index.htm) from NetMechanic. What can you do?

    Okay so lets say that our site www.ihaveanerror.com comes up with a couple of errors that cause it to render incorrectly when we look at it in some of the alternative browsers. How are we going to fix the problem? Well the first thing we want to do is stay away from any propriety tags a certain browser type might offer. These tags will only work properly in the browser they are designed for and may cause trouble for you in others. An example of a proprietary tag would be <marquee> in Internet Explorer.

    Another thing you should make a habit of is to validate your pages through the World Wide Web Consortium (http://www.w3c.org/) (W3C for short). Founded in 1994 the W3C has made it its obligation to guide the development of the Web and create a common basis to build upon. One of the services that the W3C offers is syntax validation. This is a useful tool when you are trying to ensure that your visitors will get roughly the same experience when they visit your site. Validation is easy, select the language your site was designed in and use their free validation tools to track down any errors that might occur. If there is an error in your source the validation system will highlight it and provide you with possible solutions for correcting it.

    Why should you conform your site to the World Wide Web Consortium's guidelines? The answer is that it is these guidelines that browser developers use as a basis to display pages on the Web. While browsers like Mozilla conform strictly to the W3C's guidelines Internet Explorer is more relaxed. In fact Internet Explorer will render just about anything you throw at it. You can leave out the <html> tags, <body> tags, or forget to close a tag all together and IE will 9 times out of 10 be able to work with what you give it.

    Be weary of Microsoft's FrontPage. While Microsoft makes some of the world's most powerful and end user friendly applications in my opinion, FrontPage has a tendency to do things IE's way. What I mean when I say this is that FrontPage will overload a web page with a lot of overhead that is either out of place or incorrect. If you plan on using an editor of this type consider Adobe's GoLive, this application at least has the ability to built a page according to W3C standards and has a built in syntax checker that can help you ensure your site will meet their requirements. The final word, most likely notů

    Remember the saying "you can't please everyone"? The same holds true to the world of Internet browsers, it will be pretty much impossible to make your site render the same way on each and every browser available. This however is not the goal; the goal is to make your site useable by the most common browsers thus reaching the largest audience possible. If something fails horribly under certain browsers then it is a good time to rethink your design and find another way to approach the issue. If your site is known to only work under Internet Explorer and it is your desire to leave it this way then it is good practice to let your visitors know this in advance. They will be much likelier to switch browsers (if possible) and come back to your site if you let them know ahead of time rather than letting them walk into an unusable page or badly formatted site. Don't forget presentation is everything.


    About the Author:
    Matt Benya is a co-owner of Primate Studios (www.primatestudios.com) an independent development house focusing on CGI illustration, Web design and multimedia. With 20+ years of art experience and a degree in Network administration Matt is well suited to translate your needs to the Web.
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  2. #2
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    Oct 2004
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    50

    Default Mozilla !!!

    yes, the majority of the people make use the same browser, but that's only because they don't know about other browsers. I, myself, am also a Windows user, but I use Mozilla Firefox for surfing and Mozilla Thunderbird as email client. And I AM EXTREMELY HAPPY with them. I definately recommentd them both, and moreover, both are free!!! Go to www.mozilla.org and download them just as I did. No Ads (like Opera), no 30 day trial, no spyware. You don't like them - remove them! But I doubt you'll do that.

  3. #3
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    Oct 2004
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    Default

    I use IE because of the Google Toolbar. I know Mozilla also have one but it does not feature the Google Rank and AutoFill and all the other nice features.

  4. #4
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    Oct 2004
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    Default oh, yeas, it does

    Hi, FireFox does have the ranking feature, its in the statusbar to the right. The Google bar is, I think, much more advanced than the google bar of IE (I have algo used, and stil do use sometimes IE). But anyway, even if what you said was true, it is still no reason for not switching to FireFox. :-)

  5. #5
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    Nov 2004
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    It's too bad a lot of sites still aren't (fully) compatible with opera or even firefox, I don't think it is that hard to pay some attention to it when writing your code.

  6. #6
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    Nov 2004
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    Default

    i like firefox because of tabbed browsing, more secure, dl manager, and it will search for words in a page, great for reasearching.

  7. #7
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    Nov 2004
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    11

    Default

    For all IE people (and I am only talking to people with IE because it is annoying web designers), if you don't relise, the term "Web safe colors" is a term used because of IE. IE has a major problem with web colors, and disorters the images and colors, much like sometimes when you convert a .gif file, it comes out all fuzzy...
    In Firefox this problem is not existant, a long with anyother browser (to my knowedge). IE does not contain 'cutting edge', or even good to mention features. Its old, out of data. And you know that thing that the government said (USA), not to use IE because of info stealing, hasn't been resolved. I havn't seen an update for IE. I've had people tell me there is an update, but where is it? Don't tell me, I really don't care. I was trying to prove my point.
    I remember when I was tired of IE, and I wanted to try something new (and on computers, I hate even the smallest changes). I heard of firebird or something like that. Later I went to download it to find its name had changed and the url was different. Now firefox is one of the greatest browsers you can imagine. You can create your own themes, you can help create the code for firefox, you can create your own extentions (or mods). Of course you have to know how to program some stuff, but you can, and that is the point. Also just to tell everyone, the makers of firefox plan to make it so that people can easily make extentions and themes.

  8. #8
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    Sep 2003
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    Default

    fuzionmonkey, firefox allow tabbed browsing ?

    I use IE and Opera. Have FireFox too, but i use IE (My CMS only work with IE) and Opera.
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  9. #9
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    Oct 2004
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    Default IE

    Quote Originally Posted by Nokia
    fuzionmonkey, firefox allow tabbed browsing ?
    Sure it does. +a lot of other nice features.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nokia
    I use IE and Opera. Have FireFox too, but i use IE (My CMS only work with IE) and Opera.
    Nokia, Im doing it the other way around. I use FireFox everyday, and only start up IE if I want to do internet banking!

  10. #10
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    Sep 2003
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    Default

    Thanks, i found New Tab button. Shortcut Ctrl+T

    Can i make the Tab appear bottom of the browser ?
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